Fellow parkour and movement enthusiasts. I am always looking for new (and old) high quality parkour related reads. Since the first book about parkour was published I made it one of my goals to gather parkour related books as I believe it helps my understanding of the discipline and because I justlike reading (old school reading, with books and stuff ).
In a way over all these years the goal has stayed the same but I came to find there are many books out there that I do not consider to be of great quality. So i refined my approach and also reached out to other disciplines in my search for books that potentially can broaden and deepen my understanding of parkour, or just movement in general (not considering for a moment all the great articles, posts and stories to be found online or elsewhere).
The following is my collection so far and if there is anything new and of interest for any of you out there, I have already reached what I wanted with this article.
Julie Angel: Cine Parkour
What can I say. If you have not read it and give just the slightest shit about parkour, its origins and how it developed this is a must. Cine Parkour is the result of Julie Angels Phd thesis. For the first time ever it concentrated a great deal of scientifically processed knowledge about parkour and made it accessible to everyone. Gone were the times where your number 1 source for info about the art was the internet forums or some vague stories told by more experienced traceurs (counting myself in on that one). It also presents the starting point of the scientific exploration of parkour away from classic sports science. Allthough it is dry to read at times I soaked up any bits of info in there and can advise you to do the same.
Vincent Thibault: Parkour and the art du déplacement: Strength, Dignity, Community
I can´t believe how small the book is compared to what I got out of it. It features a very philosophical viewpoint on parkour and covers a lot of what living the discipline means. In my opinion it is very close to the original (Yamakasi, David Belle,..) approach on parkour that is so easily forgotten in our nowadays culture where the focus is solely on the movement itself. The book (on whose cover we have Bobby G. Smith on a London bouldering mission btw.) is a great benefit to the community. In fact I gave away my first copy of it to someone who I thought would appreciate it and advised him / her to do the same once finished. The person should then write the date of the possession of the book on the first page, along with the name and location and hand it to someone else. I hope the book is somewhere in the world now and eventually finds its way to you 🙂
Dan Edwardes: The Parkour and Freerunning Handbook
It presents a short colorful intro to parkour. A lot of the content is very familiar to advanced traceurs but it is ideal for starters, people with no background in parkour or as a gift to authorities (like we did with our charity jam in Linz).
Vincent Thibault: Parkour & Art du Déplacement: Lessons in practical wisdom
First off: I have not fully read it yet. It was published January 2015 and is an english/french bilingual book. From a first glance it seems great. Adding to the philosophical approach of his first book on parkour Vincent has structured his second book like amodern Book of Five Rings, or a Hagakure. It presents the reader with 90 short chapters / sections each aiming on giving guidance / inspiration on different aspects of parkour. I was amazed to find many quotes from well known practicioners in there as well as I like the feeling of the book overall.
Alexander Huber: Die Angst dein bester Freund (Fear, your best friend)
The so called Huber Buam (the Huber “dudes”) are world famous professional climbers, brothers and pioneers in the climbing world. Alexander Huber is a specialist free clmber and was first in climbing many of the hardest routes out there free-solo (no rope, no partner). In his book he reflects on fear as mechanism of awareness and rightfully claims that despite what fear does for us and our progress we live in a fear avoiding society that has lost touch with itself. Reading the book I felt very close to how Alexander described his relationship with fear and how we as parkour people treat fear and benefit from it.
Bradley Garrett: Explore Everything: Place Hacking the City
Explore Everything is the result of a phd thesis on urban exploring (if I remember correctly). It is written in a mixture of academic style and storytelling and features Garretts journey into the UE scene. First London, but also world wide. Filled with pictures and stories of great adventures one easily forgets that these stories are in fact real, that there are people out there seeking to crash the boundries of modern cities and people who do not fear stepping out of their comfort zone in search of the extraordinary. One of the main observations for me while reading the book was the development Garrett described. From simple touristic actions of visiting desolate and abdandoned sites in the beginning to creeping into “live” structures and ultimately exploring one of Londons most secure networks ever (the tube).
Whipplesnaith: The Night Climbers of Cambridge
To me this is more a historic document rather than just a good read. Imagine the 1930s. It is a cold wet night when a group of students decide to take on yet another climbing challenge they set themselves. Mostly their climbing challenges take place on the renowned Cambridge university campus. All they are equipped with is their everyday clothes and maybe a rope (suits, shoes we would consider stiff the least,…). They have a goal but the risk of being caught could feature some uncertain consequences, maybe even get them banned from the uni let alone the potential danger they face during their climbs.. Find my review for more info here: http://www.we-trace.at/2015/07/22/nightclimbersofcambridge/
Kelly Starrett: Becoming a supple Leopard
This one was recommended to me by a friend (gimbalninja.com – go visit his site!) and it is the first strength / mobility related book I have taken on (ever). In such it is just awesome. It is well worth the price and can be used to tackle any deficites / little pains or problems or just get more rounded as an athlete overall. It is filled with easy digestable theory that is broken up with practical examples and tests that can be applied to oneself.
John Little: The Warrior Within: The philosophies of Bruce Lee to better understand the orld around you and achieve a rewarding life.
Sooo. Let the “How to be happy for dummies” title not fool you. John was one of Bruce Lees direct disciples and made this book a great effort of explaining Lees philosophy. A lot of the content is of course martial arts related but the philosophical aspect of the book caught my eye. Bruce Lee to me is an exceptional character and the book got me an authentic glimpse of that mans mindset.
Last on my list is Christopher Mc Dougall: Born to run
Born to run is the story of Christopher Mc Dougall who, injury ridden but with a love for running thought there was something school medicine is not telling us. He went to Mexico in search of a tribe (the Tarahumara / running people) that is characterised by a nearly superhuman ability to running huge distances (literally hundreds of kilometers) in the life threatening environment that is the mexican desert. Running plays a fixed role in the tribes culture and Mc Dougall is trying to get behind the secret of their running. The book is a story and in such it was an awesome read. It also raises some questions and concerns about modern day running culture. That being said the book falls out of line a little because I see it more as a story aimed to be written in an entertaining way but that does not make its content less valueable to me.
I am aware there are more books that did not get a mention (yet), like Seb Foucan´s Freerunning, the german Tracers Blackbook (good stuff) or some german books on parkour in schools.
June2016 UPDATE: Just finished Julie Angel: Breaking The Jump: The Secret Story of Parkour’s High Flying Rebellion. It´s awesome and I do recommend this to everyone with the slightest interest in parkour history. Check out the full review for more details.
On my current watchlist I have:
- Ryan Ford, Ben Musholt: Parkour Strength Training: Overcome Obstacles for Fun and Fitness (quite pricy for my taste – 40 euros)
- Carlos López Galviz, and Bradley L. Garrett: Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within (amazon release in May 2016)
- the translated versions of the Methode naturelle books by Philippe Til